Methow Arts: 5th Graders Explore Ekphrastic Writing

February 2019

By Ashley Lodato, Arts Education Director – Methow Arts Alliance

If you’ve ever read an essay inspired by a painting, or listened to a song prompted by a poem, or watched a dance influenced by a sculpture, then you’ve experienced ekphrasis. Ekphrasis is the practice of exploring a piece of art through the lens of a different medium, to help share the emotional content and experience of an object or piece of art with someone who has never encountered it.

Methow Valley fifth graders had the opportunity to explore ekphrastic writing in conjunction with a recent field trip to the Confluence Gallery & Art Center.

Upon arriving at the gallery, students were welcomed by Executive Director Sarah Jo Lightner, who told them about Confluence’s mission, as well as introducing them to the current exhibit–“Weathering Change”–and explaining the process for getting art accepted into a show.

One of the students asked Sarah Jo, “Can children buy art?” Sarah Jo responded, “EVERYONE should have access to creating and buying art.”

Painter and teaching artist Margaret Kingston then took over, examining four different pieces of work in the show. Margaret discussed color, use of texture, and the artists’ perspectives on their work.

The next phase of the residency gave students a chance to walk through the gallery looking at each work of art before settling on a piece that resonated with each of them. Poet and teaching artist Kelleigh McMillan then guided students in a writing exercise that involved examining the piece of art they had chosen through writing poetry, prompted with “I remember” and “And then.”

To wrap up, students shared their poems aloud with the rest of the class.



Click HERE to watch Emmet Bondi read his poem.

This art residency was brought to students by Methow Arts’ Okanogan Region Arts Education Partnership.  The partnership serves more than 5,200 students and 370 teachers across Okanogan County with arts programs in classrooms in the Omak, Okanogan, Brewster, Bridgeport, Pateros, and Methow School Districts, and in the Paschal Sherman Indian School. Project sponsors include the Public School Funding Alliance, the Methow Valley Fund of the Community Foundation of North Central Washington, the Methow Valley School District, the National Endowment for the Arts, and ArtsWA.


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